Flame in the Jar

The boy looked at the people praying in front of an idol at a temple. He didn’t understand why men would worship a stone sculpture. Being a kid who was yet to be schooled the limitations of dreams, he asked his father repeatedly ‘Who is God?’. Since they were expected to be silent, his father pointed towards the idol. But the boy continued asking the question. The father was annoyed and just as he was about to hit him, the priest stepped out and said, ‘Little man. Listen! Whoever catches the flame in a jar is God.’ The boy went insane. He stopped from school. He stopped playing with friends his age. When they asked him why he was carrying a glass jar always, he only told them one thing — that he was trying to catch the flame in a jar. One day, the other kids marked him. They pelted stones at him because they felt he had been possessed by a devil. The boy ran away, tugging the glass jar to his chest. Soon, the elders came to know and the feudal lord called for his father. The feudal lord said, ‘There is no room for lunatics here. I shall call the vicar and he shall drive the devil away from your son’. The father nodded in agony. The vicar took chilli powder and rubbed the boy’s eyes. The boy didn’t cry in pain. But his voice grew louder. ‘I shall catch the flame in a jar for I am God.’ The vicar then took a knife and cut a cross on the boy’s head. He bled profusely. His mother began to wail and the other women tried consoling her. His father began to mutter prayers. The vicar continued to cure the boy from the illness. Finally, after many hours, the boy collapsed. His body was placed on the funeral pyre and long after he had turned to ashes, people started thronging to the little town. Right on the place where he was burnt to ashes, they found a glass jar with its lid closed. But that was not a strange sight. Strange was the flame burning in it. They thought it was magic but the moment the jar was taken away from the place, the flame would die. The moment it was taken back to where it was found, people could see the flame. And so, they let the jar be. Soon, they began circumambulating the place. A temple was built around it. People began to worship the boy who caught the flame in a jar.

Author: Kavir Nair

A bespectacled lad from the filter coffee preferring south Indian coastal city of Chennai. The Japanese coined a word just for me - Tsundoku, which means the act of buying a book and leaving it unread, often piled together with other unread books. Although I must add, having an unread library is the way I could truly honour the late Umberto Eco. When not watching movies in theaters or beach walking on Marina, you can find me at home reading a book or writing a journal or Netflixing. While I do all this as Ravi Kiran, my alter ego - Kavir Nair needs an exclusive space to write. Hence, he has chosen this abode.

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